Monsterful Monday: Small parties and big ideas

Fun nights in-and-out

Small groups are always easier for me. I get peopled-out quite quickly. This weekend was a case in point. I went to two social things. One was a party full of considerably younger people, where I was worn out by about half ten. The next night, a smaller gathering for some casual not-too-competitive (and in fact in the case of the main game, entirely collaborative) board/card games with the Best Beloved and a small group of very good friends and I didn’t even notice we were up way past midnight.

The Best Beloved and I also, as a result of the game night, acquired a new couples nickname. Did you know you can’t change your Facebook name for 60 days if you change it? Guess how I know. But I don’t mind.

I’m so grateful for energising social nights with good friends, tasty food, and lots of laughter. And I’m equally grateful for the quiet times with the BB, whether we’re snuggling, or sat across from each other working on craft projects.

Books

I just finished ‘Beyond the Pale Motel’ by Francesca Lia Block- an adult novel by one of my favourite YA novelists. I thought, when it became clear what the denouement would be, that I was going to hate it. But somehow- and I have no idea how she did it- the ending managed to actually be totally self-esteem and uplifting. I can’t explain it without spoilers, so I’ll just tell you you need to get yourself a copy and it’s a quick read.

I’ve also just started in on ‘The Art of Asking‘ by Amanda Palmer and it’s pretty much the perfect book for me to be writing right now- more on that in the next few days. All I’ll say is…I have an exciting project in the offing which is ALL about asking.

On which note- this TED talk by her is wonderful.

Tappity tap tap tap

I’ve been revisiting the Dare/Dream/Do course starting at the beginning, and this weekend got to the lesson about Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping. I used it on my dreadful habit of procrastinating this morning and have had a super-productive day! This is definitely something I’ll be exploring further, it’s so helpful.

The Little Things

Ingrid Michaelson (only discovered her music this week and it’s gorgeous), Joni Mitchell (if you listen to her old stuff and her new stuff next to each other you can *hear* how much younger her voice sounded in the 70s), Kim Boekbinder who has THE coolest Kickstarter on at the moment, a warm bed, decluttering, Offbeat Bride, Project Runway- #sorrynotsorry, I love that show- especially the every-season “This is not avant-garde!” “I think it’s TOTALLY avant-garde” argument, recommendations, cookies coming right to my desk, d&ms with the Best Beloved, watching people jump off the Sky Tower on a zipline.

How about you?

Monsterful Monday: who invited Moon Moon?

The answer is: my Best Beloved’s nephew, since he invited me and the Best Beloved to a barbecue this weekend, and as of yesterday one of my nickhames is Moon Moon. This is due to to my total inability to throw anything except glitter in a way that makes the thrown thing land where it’s supposed to.

I won’t lie, the week just gone has been frustrating in the extreme in some ways. But are always two sides to a coin.

So while it’s sad that I’ve been seconded to another team at work, the fact that my manager was even more upset about it than I was, and that my colleagues were also sorry to see me have to go temporarily, means a lot to me.

While Wednesday was mostly a day that turned to custard, it ended with a hair appointment (head massages make EVERYTHING better), and a lovely Guy Fawkes party where we took advantage of a friend’s house being on a hill overlooking South Auckland to watch all their fireworks (and they didn’t disappoint).

And other things have been lovely. The weekend just gone saw lots of snuggles with the best beloved, and a trip to the zoo where I saw my first real live kiwis. As in the bird, not the people. I haven’t been walking around New Zealand with my eyes shut this whole entire time. We also saw a baby red panda hiding from its Mum because it was bath time, and its twin sibling who was less lucky getting thoroughly licked. The zoo’s resident elephant out for her walk (closest I’ve ever been to an elephant!). Meerkats keeping watch. SO many birds. And not eels because my best beloved led me past their tank with my eyes shut so I wouldn’t have to see them (eels, snakes, anything like that creep me out). So OK, I was walking around with my eyes shut for a small part of the day.

The Christmas cross-stitches are going well, Friday night saw me have a stitching-and-Charmed evening mostly to myself. I’ve realised that I tend to do best either alone or in small groups- definitely not a born extrovert- and time alone helps me recharge my batteries so it’s something I’m always grateful to get- though, again with two sides to the coin, I’m grateful not to be alone all the time.

The little things:
Fruju ice lollies, watching people jump off the Skytower on flywires, mayonnaise, barbecue, nice views, my Best Beloved’s lovely family, new old books, the library, glitter, compliments from people I respect, new recipes, surprise strawberries, and kisses.
How about you? What are you grateful for this week?

Monsterful Monday: Five years in New Zealand

Small jet, lonely arrival by Angelo DeSantis

Small jet, lonely arrival by Angelo DeSantis

Today marks five years since I arrived in New Zealand to live. It’s been a hell of a ride, and doesn’t show any signs of letting up. I let go of a bad relationship and found myself. I went far away from one family and found another in my friends, and indeed in their families. There are so many people in my life that I’m grateful for for helping me call New Zealand home. Today is about them.

There’s Jenni, who I bonded with over a mutual love of ‘Supernatural’ and terrible fanfic, who I’ve played games with, written games with, written characters for. Who has come through things turned upside down with courage and grace. Who is now in a different city and who I miss and who I’m so excited is moving up here. Who took me to her parents’ place for Christmas, via various department store Santas, one of many examples of her enabling my crazy.

There’s Anna, my partner-in-filth, badass geek, the person who I text so often my phone is almost dead pretty much every day, who is supportive and patient and forgiving, and who is as capable as I am of accidentally ALL THE BOOKS. Who gives excellent recommendations of reading- and forgives me when my recommendations to her keep her up until 1am reading. I think.

There’s Anthony, who was there to meet me at the airport, which I wasn’t at all expecting. Who, thanks to LARP, I became better friends with again after a major break in London. And who just over a year later offered me a place to live when I left the abusive relationship I was in.

There’s Holly, my crafting co-conspirator and enabler, who introduced me to the Destitute Gourmet and gave me good advice when I needed to hear it- the only person who will put yourself first is you.

There’s Liz and Russell (scariest teddybear I’ve ever met), who make me laugh, and who started telling me a couple of years before I did it that I should come and live in Auckland, who introduced me to one of my favourite cafes here, scary clowns and all, who ask all the good questions.

There’s Chris, Lynn, Bryn and Nick E, fellow expats and the only people here who understand the awesomeness of flying saucers and that there is only one proper Marmite, and it’s not the Sanitarium one.

There’s Hannah, my beautiful, generous girl bestie, who makes everything lovely and kind of terrifies me with how much time she puts into even a single costume and just how far she will go in pursuit of things matching, and with whom I share one of the greatest things two women with similar tastes can share- shoe size.

There’s Walter and Prema, my flatmates, who cook, and put up with me and my strange experimental cooking, whose taste in British comedy is the same as mine and who I am enjoying getting to know better.

And, of course, there’s my Best Beloved, the love of my life. Who I’m not afraid to say that about, but who also respects that I wanted to take my time and make sure things are right, not have too many variables at once. Who is the only person I’ve met able to stop me wandering off at the supermarket without annoying me, whose tender care, respect and kindness are unlike anything I’ve ever known in a romantic relationship. Who sees even the broken parts (and there are a lot of broken parts) of me and loves them too. And who, as we established last night, I would want to be in the same city as even if that city was quarantined. And with whom I don’t think I will ever agree about who the really lucky person in our relationship is.

I’m grateful for all of them. And grateful too for the fact that this doesn’t scratch the surface, either of the friendships or the number of amazing people that I’ve gotten to know since moving here. Whether I mentioned them by name or not, I am glad and lucky to have them.

Gratitude-sday: Warning, contains sap

A day late because it was Labour Weekend here in NZ, which meant time AFK.

(Speaking of AFK, you should totally consider backing their Kickstarter to make a webseries. First gratitude point- seeing the pilot of the show at Armageddon over the weekend. You can watch the trailer here. It even includes a small cameo by the Best Beloved, who’s an extra in the pilot. SO proud.)

Crafting 

We had a crafternoon on Monday at my place organised by my flatmate, and it was lovely. We were all, I think, exhausted from the weekend so just sitting quietly making stuff was a good change of pace. One Christmas gift is well under way, which is good because I have more to make. Going to need a few frames for gifts this year, but that’s all I’m telling you.

Helpful friends

I was volunteering on a stand at Armageddon promoting LARP at the weekend, including managing the stand on Friday. Due to an omnishambles of circumstances the people who were supposed to be helping with setup didn’t appear, so I was, and am, extremely grateful to the two friends who, at the last minute, volunteered their time both setting up the stand and enticing punters on Friday night. Couldn’t have done it without Team S.L.A.S.H (Super-Lastminute-Armageddon-Standrunning-Heroes)!

The Best Beloved

Yes, I know, he comes up every week. But this week he gets his own section, because once again he proved me wrong when I thought I couldn’t love him more. I warned you this post contained sap, didn’t I? He’s one of the biggest blessings in my life, and one I plan on holding on to.

The little things:

Steampunk Gentleman Rainbow Dash (HOW are there no photos of this most glorious of Cosplays?), Hustle Butter, Treat lip balm, Macarons 101 (yes, I’m going to try and bake them, and yes, it’s probably insane), and crazy shoes.

How about you?

 

Monsterful Monday: Starring Gibby the Gibbon

We had a bake-off at work on Friday, after I suggested the idea. My pink leopard print cake got a bit smooshed but apparently tasted exactly like a Strawberry Rocky Road icecream, and I’m determined to practice and get the spots right next time (which means 4 more eggs and better piping, I suspect). If you want to have a go, you can find instructions for creating a leopard-print-on-the-inside cake at the Sweet Dreams website.

I didn’t win any prizes, but I DID win the weekly hosting of Gibby the Gibbon, the office plushie, along with Lorraine the office manager who actually did most of the work. So Gibby is living on her desk for most of the week but he was on mine for a bit so I could take a photo:

Gibby the Gibbon

Meet Gibby!

Yes, I know, he’s a leetle extra fuzzy. I’m still getting the hang of holding the camera still for Pro HDR photos. Where this is going is that I’m very grateful to be working in a team of people who are so friendly, and having any kind of effort appreciated is a wonderful thing which I absolutely don’t take for granted. I’m especially thankful for Jamjar, who is also a blogger and tells me about things like the blogging meetup I went to on Tuesday, where this happened:

Blogger Meetup

 

We’re typing, we’re typing!

Meetup 2

 

You should totes go check out Jamjar’s blog, too.  The meetup was so helpful, I got some good feedback and came away feeling inspired to rock this out.  Always something to be thankful for!

I’ve got my next tattoo appointment booked this Saturday with Nursey No Mercy and I can’t wait, so thankful to have things to anticipate. Bring on the pain! I’m also rather surprised and grateful about how OK my parents are with the idea. Them not supporting it wouldn’t have changed my plans but I’ve found it difficult in the past to share things with them because of the lack of support. So even though I don’t *need* it, I’m thankful to have it.

I’m still thankful for my pink hair, which according to the Best Beloved’s Mum makes me look like Strawberry Shortcake. I’ll take it!

I’d like to be able to tell you about the Christmas crafts I have lined up. I’d *like* to, but a) I haven’t fully decided on all of them and b) the Best Beloved reads this blog and one of them is for him.

Darn, now he knows I’m making him something. And yes, I know October is quite early to be thinking about Christmas crafts, but by the time they start playing carols in the supermarket, it’s way too late to get started on anything. Unless you’re a LOT faster than me at knitting. OR WHATEVER CRAFT I AM USING TO MAKE THE PRESENTS. Ha! Now I have you guessing, don’t I?

Finally, this Thursday on the blog I’ll be sharing a craft project with you that I’ve been working on for a while, which I think is very special and which I’m so excited to show you. I’ll even be sharing how you can make one, too! It’s magical, it’s very personal, and it’s very punk rock (by which I mean straightforward, no messing about, reach into your heart and bring out awesomeness). I hope you love it as much as I do!

How about you? What are you grateful for this week?

Monsterful Monday: The electric flamingo

Because it turns out that ‘Tulip’ by La Riche Directions is a lot more magenta than red. How do I know? This is how:

Me with pink hair

It took 2 hours and a lot of standing in the shower (which I am cleaning this week because, well, pink) but I LOVE my new hair colour. It glows and, according to one work colleague, even looks great windswept (because of the ‘halo’ effect). I’m so grateful it turned out beautifully, and also grateful to my friend Evie, who I sought advice from. She dyes her hair all the time- her tips were to, and I quote, “bleach the f*** out of it first with L’Oreal Perfect Blonde Maximum”, and then leave the Directions colour on for an hour- 20 minutes is “for people who actually want the colour to wash out”. It’ll be pink for the next while, but I have plans involving going red, then purple, then blue, then back to pink…

Social funtimes

This weekend we had another Girls Night, which is turning into a monthly thing. This time, we all packed into a couple of cars and headed off to the wilds of the North Shore for glow-in-the-dark minigolf and Mongolian Barbecue. It was lots of silly fun, and great to spend some time with a lovely group of women. A few of us deliberately wore white things for the minigolf, because blacklight. First prize for that goes to my flatmate, who turned up in a white 50s dress and white striped leggings- she was like a glow-in-the-dark Alice in Wonderland, and it was glorious. I’m so grateful to be getting to know my girlfriends in Auckland better, it makes me feel even more at home.

I could have spent Sunday recovering. I *could* have, but I volunteered to model for a promo photoshoot for Moonbright, a forthcoming campaign LARP here in Auckland being written by my flatmates. A bunch of us had a blast running around the Auckland Domain on Sunday (with a break for pizza) with beautiful fantasy makeup by Kara of Painted People (who is amazing, if you’re planning an event in Auckland and want a facepaint artist, seriously contact her, she is worth every penny of her asking price).

I spent the first half of the shoot as a badass cat, and the second half as a blue and purple snake. Lots of excited small children and tourists, including one particularly pushy busfull who after one of them took a photo with one of us wanted all kinds of photos with everyone. But mostly, it was people standing off at a distance taking photos of us with their phones. So if I end up big in Japan, you’ll know why.  Such a fun way to spend a day with friends, throwing together outfits, posing and mucking about. Having four of us made up as cats when there were pigeons around led to one of my favourite photos of the day:

Photo by Matt Brunton

Photo by Matt Brunton

Also the photographer, who’s a friend of mine, made sure to get some photos of the Best Beloved and I in our finery (he spent the shoot as ‘the Violence Fairy’- big-ass wings and gorgeous facepaint but NO glitter), and new pictures of us always make me so happy.

The little things: #lovetober and finding SO many tattoo artists to admire on Instagram, getting excited for the work bake-off, putting the finishing touches on a project I’ll be sharing with you guys soon (so excited!), getting such good things from meditation, Molly Crabapple, texting, good moisturiser (when you’ve spent the day in and out of makeup your skin thanks you for it!), and looking forward to visiting Wellington for Jenni’s birthday and tattoo funtimes.

What about you?

Monsterful Monday: Unexpected liquorice

Because I’m sorry but if it’s a red candy heart and it’s on top of a red velvet cupcake, I anticipate some kind of berry flavour. Weird.

Anyway…(ooh, surprise cream centre!), I think we can all be grateful for the existence of cupcakes, especially cupcakes I totally swiped from an extremely frustrating meeting, because even though the meeting was frustrating at least there was food.

There are probably people who can view both spring forward and fall back with equanimity. I am not one of those people. I like having sunlight in the morning. But I did get an extra night of snuggles with the best beloved, which I am very grateful for.

I’m also grateful for useful meetings outnumbering frustrating ones, for the Four Agreements, for Things and Ink (the latest issue arrived on Friday and was, as usual, both full of interesting articles and beautiful art).

I’m finally a member of the library! I’m very grateful for this even if it is highly dangerous, knowing what I’m like at remembering due dates. For books! I may have already reserved two. And by ‘may’ I mean I did.

I’m very late to the party, but The Bloggess has had me almost falling off my chair with laughter, which was especially good on Friday when I was very grumpy. I’m rather worried at how likely many of her stories would be to happen to me. Luckily I think my Best Beloved would be OK with that. Knock knock, motherfucker.

Small things: the fact that things like this happen at my work, being able to sleep in, successfully timing mac and cheese completion. The existence of this dress ,even though I can in no way afford it. It makes me happy just looking at it. I also think I need all of these candles. You know, for my fantasy retro burlesque sparkly rainbow apartment. Re-living the 90s (I still refuse to accept they are now retro) with ninja turtles- both the proper 90s ones and the silly Michael Bay ones (which were not as silly, or as far from the original, as we expected). Social time with friends, especially the ones I don’t see often enough. And finally, coconut rum ice-cream. Trying new things. It can be awesome.

Tired-but-happy Tuesday

Sorry folks but you’ll have to wait until next week for the Suit of Pentacles. I was at a convention all weekend, including running two games, and I am still wiped out. It was a resounding success (well done to my dear friend Anna), something I suspected when my one-card pull for the weekend was the Three of Staves/Wands- successful cumulation of enterprises.

Anyway, so tired. So I’ll keep this short and sweet and grateful:

Things I’m thankful for right now: the Best Beloved (who took very good care of me this weekend) tea, a warm bed, early nights, newbies having a good time in my games, laughing with friends, enthusiasm, healing, moving forward, the borrowing of a deliciously warm and snuggly fleece-lined cloak from my best beloved, shenanigans with my friends, meeting new people, Pin Up Girl’s Erin dress, snuggling, shoulder/neck/head rubs, spontaneous Bohemian Rhapsody, loom band bracelets, the Parlour, SARK, recharged Kindle with new Francesca Lia Block goodness, friendly bus drivers, the Post-Punk Kitchen, having limbo music stuck in my head, big strong men cringing away from me because I had an open tub of glitter, knitting, taking a round off to set up for a game and more importantly nap, paneer makhani at the end of a long weekend, getting portrait photos with my man, seeing people play roles I’d written and it being just how I’d imagined, and delicious sleeeeeeep. 

And finally, a snapshot of what one of my flatmates is like:

*Flatmate W runs up behind me.*

“Ellen! Ellen! Ellen!”

*I turn around from where I have been walking with the Best Beloved.*

“Yes?”

“[Best Beloved] was looking for you.” *grins*

“You, sir, are a helper!”

Monsterful Monday- My Arcana Courts, 3/4: Wands

Special mentions first- tea, Voltaren, fruit pie, quiet nights in, snuggles with the Best Beloved, having a fancypants whole food shop at the end of my street, exciting news from friends, knitting inspiration, Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy was so much fun), Kirk the Ravager, Chibi silliness, washing up.

Wands. Now I admit, I was actually going to leave the Wands until last, because of the suits it’s the one I haven’t fully got my head around yet. According to Veronica, wands/staves are the people who inspire you to do amazing things. World-changing things. Being of service to others. These are the most inspirational people in your life, in many ways. Pure magic, raw, hungry, go-out-and-do-it, be-the-change-you-want-to-see energy.

My pages/princesses of wands, I would say, are my Godparents. In their different ways they’ve each shown me what it means to go out and do something to make your mark on the world. One has faced great personal challenges in the form of disabilities. One has spent most of their life in Africa as a doctor. One is a parish priest, making a difference to many lives in many small and large ways every week. Each, in their different way, has done something good for the world. I’m grateful that I had that example growing up, and I hope that in achieving the dreams I have for my own life I can push out that positive energy into the world and bring good to others.

For me, the Knight of Wands is my friend Vanya.  Burlesque, acrobatics, theatre, fire, he does all of it. He’s busy busy all the time working on new things. He’s action and making a name for himself and pure, raw, go-for-it, a blast of fire magic. He takes 100 times more risks than most other people. Sure he has a few more interesting scars because of that, but he also has more successes. He throws himself into things headlong, commits, grabs hold and doesn’t let go. Because of thta he brings other people along for the ride, because they start to realise that if he can do it, so can they. He’s a great example of going after your dreams hell-for-leather, and as with my pages/princesses, I’m grateful for the trail he’s blazed because it’s shown how it can be done. He makes me want to up my game.

My Queens of Wands, I would say, are my fabulous girlfriends Erin and Hannah. They’re the ones who say “of COURSE you can do that!” to even my craziest ideas. They radiate love and goodness, and make peoples lives better just by being in them. They nurture my dreams, remind me of the unique gifts I have, give emotional support. They want to make the world better, again each in their different way. I feel like they visualise the world as they want it to be, and yes can be dispirited when it’s not that way yet, but they keep on loving, feeding, taking care, bringing light. I am so thankful for them.  

King of Wands is hard. For every achievement I know those in my life have made, I know they want to do more. We’re all growing and changing, all the time. I’m grateful to have that love and support around me, and to be able to offer it to others. I want to lift others up to achieve their goals, be steadfast, just as they are for me. And that’s what I have to say about that.

What about you? Who are your inspirations? Who makes you want to change the world and makes you feel that you can do it, too? Let me know in the comments!

 

Monsterful Monday: My Arcana Courts 2: Cups

Another week has come and gone, and it was a big week at that. Before I start in on the Cups in my life, special gratitude goes to the movers, Air New Zealand, my Best Beloved for assembling my bed and wardrobe/bookshelves AND taking delivery of all my stuff the day before I arrived, my lovely new flatmates and new work colleagues who so far seem like good people. 

http://bit.ly/1o5GjVC  published under Creative Commons- http://bit.ly/1mhaR6eKnight of Cups by Cassandra Santori Queen of Cups by Cassandra Santori King of Cups by Cassandra Santori

So. Cups. 

Love. Beauty. Emotional richness. Overflowing feelings. I think these people are forces of nature in your life, whether a whirlwind of inspiration, or “receding and returning gently or passionately, or moving lovingly like the tide” (from ‘To love is not to possess’ by James Kavanaugh). Cups people surprise you with joy, with support, with artistic and creative passion. 

My page/princess/daughter of Cups is, as I mentioned on Thursday, Anna C, at the moment, for her planting the seed of inspiration and encouragement to keep going at Acro. She’s full of zest for life and it’s infectious, it makes me want to live to the full just as she does. I’m so grateful to have her shining a light on the path for me. 

My Knight of Cups, well, there are a few. Those people who, when I say ‘oh I’d love to do this when X happens’, reply ‘but why do you have to wait for X, why not do it now?’. Like a former work colleague, J, who when I mentioned the idea of reception bingo (the Offbeat Bride site is a secret compulsion. Not so secret now.) pointed out that I could do the same thing for my birthday, and even prettied up the bingo cards for me. I had so much fun with them and it’s thanks to her. I’m so grateful to those people who push me to live that bit more wildly, to follow my passions and not wait for permission. I’m so lucky and grateful they do. 

The Queen of Cups? Well, at the moment, that’s groups of people too. My fellow Witchbabies at the Parlour. The knitters of the Tiny Owl Knits group on Ravelry. These are wonderful, nurturing, supportive groups. When I, or anyone else needs it, they’re there with (virtual) hugs, good wishes, good energy, and unfailing support. From random acts of kindness to craft swaps to tarot readings, we buoy each other up with love and beauty. In my eyes everyone in those groups is a Queen of Cups, and I’m so thankful to be a part of it.

The King of Cups, the triumphant achievement of love? Well, even though the magnet card for my Best Beloved is the King of Pentacles (more on that when I talk pentacles!) I think of him as my King of Cups as well. Yes, I know, I’m a hopeless romantic. But he brings so much love and happiness, I finally feel like I’ve got it right, like I’ve found what so many people look for. I hope, too, to be my own King of Cups one day, as I’m still a work in progress when it comes to self-love, awareness of my own beauty, and mining the depths of my own emotional richness. I’ll get there. And as I do, I’m so grateful to have the loving presence of my Best Beloved in my life. 

How about you? Who are the people in your life that you’re thankful for? Who brings that special Cups energy into your life, and how? Let me know in the comments!